Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilman Anthony Santino announced Tuesday that they will propose a law to require spaying or neutering of all dogs and cats brought to the town's animal shelter.
"Requiring that all dogs and cats entering our shelter be spayed or neutered will have a major impact on overpopulation, and it will put us one step closer to our goal of conquering animal overpopulation," Murray said at a news conference at the Merrick Golf Clubhouse.
Murray called for a public hearing on the issue on Jan. 27 during the regular town board meeting.
The town's proposal is modeled after a New York City law that requires sterilization of dogs and cats taken to city shelters, officials said. The law would also include lost pets picked up by animal control officers if the animals are not already spayed or neutered, with some exceptions.
"Mandatory spaying, neutering of cats and dogs is certainly the safest and most humane strategy that can be implemented by our government," Santino said.
Murray and Santino were joined by representatives of local animal rescue groups, including Almost Home Animal Rescue & Adoption, Long Island Bulldog Rescue, and Fur Babies Rescue and Referral.
"This is an important first step in stopping the overpopulation of these dogs and cats that are out there on the street," said Linda Klampfl, a member of the Almost Home group in Bohemia.
While the Hempstead shelter now spays or neuters all cats and dogs that are being adopted, it does not undertake the procedures for all incoming animals.
Owners who pick up pets that were spayed or neutered would have to pay for the procedures before getting their animals back, town officials said in a news release. But sterilization would not take place if the owner can provide proof of the pet being used for show or service work.
"We would also look at health and at breeding considerations," town spokesman Michael Deery said.